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A welcome message for students from Dean Malat for spring 2021

Special information about spring courses, vaccines, scholarships and a reflection on the times we are living in
jennifer malat


I hope that you had the restful winter break that you deserve. This message includes important information about spring courses, vaccines and scholarships. However, I first want to speak to the times we are living in.

Like many of you, I watched the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 in disbelief and also with the knowledge that its roots lie in our country’s history. Just a week later, the president was impeached for a second time. Now, we collectively worry about what will happen next in Washington and our states’ capitals. We also collectively worry about the rising rates of COVID infection and the strain on our health care system. Regular periods of uncertainty as well as frequent, highly-visible examples of inequities in our country make these times very stressful for many of us. I know that many of you face challenges in your personal lives that add to your stress as well. I want you to know that I recognize and share in your anxiety at this moment. It hasn’t been an easy start to the new year.

At the same time, we watched a new administration begin their term this week. It not only marks a transition to a new party being in the White House, but also to a new majority in the Senate. It also marks the first time a woman or person of color has been vice president of the United States. Regardless of one’s political beliefs, many—including myself—celebrate this occasion where the diversity of our country is reflected in the leadership.

As I think of you, I’m glad you are back for the spring semester. Each semester that you enroll brings you one step closer to graduation, and all of us in the College want to see you succeed. I have a few announcements as you prepare for the new semester.

Spring Semester

As President Rao announced last week, due to the COVID surge almost all classes will begin virtually. There are exceptions for some lab courses, some clinical and field placements, practica, co-ops, internships and other work-related experiential learning activities. This means that most of your previously planned in-person classes and the in-person component of hybrid (blended) courses also will take place virtually. You can check the VCU Schedule of Classes for your updated course modality. You will also receive an email from your instructor if your course is an exception and will be taught in person.

As pandemic conditions improve, VCU intends to resume in-person instruction as soon as it is safe. VCU will evaluate the feasibility of moving forward with previously scheduled in-person classes and hybrid courses, with the hope to resume them on or before March 8. You can check the VCU Schedule of Classes to find out if any of your course instructors have already decided to change the modality of the course for the whole semester.

This may not be the experience that you planned for your spring semester. However, it is important that we stay safe as the virus infects an increasingly large portion of our population and hospitals are strained.

If you find yourself struggling with the semester, I encourage you to reach out to your academic adviser, department chair or myself. We are here to help.


VCU Health started vaccinating select students last week. At this time, select CHS students in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences will be vaccinated. Those selected are students with direct patient care or patient contact, which adheres to the Virginia Department of Health definitions included in phase 1A and 1B. We hope to have more vaccines available to more students in the coming months. We will let you know if you become eligible.

Scholarship Opportunities

On January 25, the CHS scholarship applications portal will open. CHS offers more than 150 different scholarships and gives out more than $325,000 in aid every year. Please head to the RAMS Scholarship HUB to search for scholarships. Applying is easy. For more information, visit the scholarship section of this website.

I wish you all the best in this new semester. I am hopeful that we can all be together sometime soon. In the meantime, wear a mask, stay socially distant and wash your hands.


Jennifer Malat, Ph.D.
Dean, VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences

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